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Coronavirus Update: Senate Bill, Giving Back & More

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman Coronavirus Update: Senate Bill, Giving Back & More
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Keep up with regular news updates regarding Columbus and Ohio’s response to COVID-19 here.

Ohio now has 704 cases of the coronavirus, 88 of which are in Franklin County alone.

During a Wednesday, March 25 press conference, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton gave an estimated total of patients tested across the state. So far nearly 14,800 people have been tested for COVID-19, offering at least some reassurance that many more tests have so far come back negative as opposed to positive. However, she reiterated that the number of confirmed cases is likely a lot more than what is being reported.

Other news in Central Ohio and across the state includes potential relief for Ohioans out of the Statehouse, what local companies and institutions are doing to give back and more.

Senate Bill

A new Coronavirus relief bill, which passed the Ohio Senate on Wednesday, will waive required student testing and report cards, allow high school seniors to graduate if in good academic standing, stop public water service disconnections and more.

Additional measures include allowing nursing-school graduates who have not yet passed their licensure examinations to get a temporary license and allowing Governor Mike DeWine to dip into the state’s rainy day fund.

The bill will also move the state tax filing deadline to July 15, the same as the federal tax filing deadline, and extend all-mail absentee voting to April 28 — canceling a previously set June 2 in-person primary date.

In the Wednesday press conference, Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted said that he and Secretary of State Frank LaRose commented on the change, saying they would have hoped the voting window would be longer.

The bill will still need to be voted on by the House of Representatives and signed by the governor before it becomes law.

Giving Back

A partnership between the City of Columbus, L Brands and The Columbus Foundation will see Bath & Body Works donate 500,000 bottles of liquid soap to community first responders. Bottles will be transported to City of Columbus warehouse facilities for distribution.

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has opened a drop-off site to accept donations of unopened, or sealed, medical supplies, including:

  • Masks—N-95 masks, surgical masks, procedure masks with or without face shields
  • Eyewear—medical or laboratory goggles and glasses
  • Shoe covers – medical or laboratory boot/shoe covers
  • Gowns—medical-grade protective gowns, isolation gowns
  • Gloves—nitrile exam gloves, surgical gloves
  • Bouffant caps
  • Hand sanitizer—greater than 60% alcohol
  • Sanitizer wipes

Donations should not be dropped off at the hospital, emergency room or clinics, but instead to a Wexner Center warehouse located at 610 Ackerman Rd.

On Tuesday, Columbus State Community College donated more than 15,000 gloves and hundreds of medical gowns and safety glasses to the Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the agency that distributes supplies to hospitals and first responders.

Economic Support

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners have announced two programs to aid small business owners impacted by COVID-19 and the economic hardship experienced as a result of responses to the Coronavirus.

That includes $500,000 in additional funding for the Economic and Community Development Institute, or ECDI, leveraged toward small business loans. The second is a $500,000 investment toward the Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio, which will use it to provide workforce training and career readiness to former employees out of work as a result of the Coronavirus.

Staff Layoffs

A Facebook post sent out Tuesday evening announced that Gateway Film Center would be letting go of 85% of its staff.

“The uncertainty surrounding the health crisis made this the only choice possible to keep the center viable,” said Chris Hamel, president of Gateway Film Center. “I feel devastated and worried for the well-being of our teammates. No amount of experience prepared me for the types of choices so many of us are making during this difficult scenario.”

Virtual Experiences

WOSU Public Media launched a new Virtual Experiences and Resources webpage to curate local, national and international resources and virtual experiences that can be enjoyed from home, including live performances, museum tours, dance classes, art fairs and more. Visit www.wosu.org/virtual for more.

For more information on COVID-19 in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

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